Using Talents in Play
Parapsychic talents are a means to an end. In challenge/chance situations, they’re used as part of the standard four actions: Overcome, Advantage, Attack and Defend. A talent can be used as a new way to use existing skills or as a raw skill itself (rolled at -2). Mental power requires active exertion – psychic effects only occur as long as the psychic is concentrating on producing them. Their effect on the world, however, is lasting.
Overcoming, Attacking and Defending
Talents enable characters to use skills in new ways. A kinetic can apply Pilot to deliver aerial mail, and a telepath can use Provoke to make a dog attack without the animal or its victim ever seeing her. Entirely new forms of action are possible; the telepath could instead use Deceive to control someone’s mind, forcing them into action. (This is opposed by Will or Empathy as usual, depending on the situation.)
Talents can be used as raw power, producing effects beyond the normal scale. A Class 2 or 3 parapsychic can perform superhuman mental feats; for example, an elemental warming a room can do so with just a Science roll, but for a kinetic to lift a car or for an oracle to scan a compound instantaneously, they will roll Psychokinesis or Parasense itself. This roll is made at -2, e.g. the untrained rating is Terrible rather than Mediocre, but it puts the action beyond the reach of an ordinary human to oppose. Someone hit by a car doesn’t get to apply their Dodge to reduce the shift, and the security manager of the compound can’t oppose parapsychic investigation with their Notice.
Similarly, empowered talents can be used to oppose actions on a super-human scale, such as the assault of an entire security computer system or a towering monster. This allows the character to use skills to defend or oppose an ordinarily insurmountable obstacle- for example, an elemental could fry the turrets and bots with an EMP, perhaps using Shoot or Engineering.
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Creating Advantages: Power Draw
Under its own power, the unaided brain can’t accomplish much more than a human could by other means. Each talent has reliable ways to draw psychic power from the world, creating a special situation aspect. This aspect may be be invoked for free by the psychic or anyone in their concert when using talents. A power draw aspect created by Class 1 talents is a boost – removed when invoked – whereas Class 2 talents can create draw aspects that last for the rest of the scene.
To draw power safely, the parapsychic must have access to a talent-specific power source. Otherwise, it’s still possible to draw power at the cost of a mental OR physical shift equal to the class used. (That is, creating a boost causes 1-shift stress and an aspect costs a 2-shift stress).
Summary of draw sources:
|Talent||Class 1||Class 2|
|Parasense||amnesia or ignorance|
|Psychokinesis||acceleration and pressure||extended chemical reactions and mechanical processes|
|Stoicheiarchy||electromagnetic radiation||extreme weather or environmental conditions|
|Telepathy||willing minds||massed minds in trance|
Talents can also be used to create advantages in the usual way, by using a skill to set up some sort of beneficial situation. A kinetic might unbalance shelving to create a hail of spiky machine parts, creating , or an oracle might predict the details of an adversary’s finances, allowing them to invoke repeatedly.
Talents are flexible, but specific- elementals can only manipulate energy, and telepaths have no ability to directly affect the material world. Parapsychics can overcome their limitations by working in concert, merging their minds to accomplish complex and powerful tasks. For example:
A kinetic in concert with an telepath makes contact with another kinetic-telepath pair to pass objects back and forth without any technological coordination – over interstellar distances, this technique is the foundation of the Company.
An elemental and a kinetic, each Class 1, work together to move all the heat from one building to another despite the airgap. Or at class 2, they create an illusion imbued with solidity- convincing to most senses, and genuinely able to act.
An oracle with Prophecy and a projective telepath send thoughts into the future, leaving a warning.
An oracle, an elemental and a kinetic reach out to find a hidden computer, turn it off and wipe its hard drive.
The possibilities are endless, but so are the difficulties: no two minds are alike. Aligning with another person’s mentality enough that you can exert combined talents is extremely difficult; most can sustain it only briefly if at all, and may be traumatised by the results. With specialised training from a young age, a small group of parapsychics can become acclimated to each other, forming a creche; creche members are able to act in concert more spontaneously and for extended periods, as long as they remain intimately familiar. Lovers commonly form creches, as well as rivals and close friends – mental concert carries no requirement to like each other, only to know each other so well that the characters can tolerate the mental link.
During a conflict, acting in concert requires both (or all) characters’ actions. It provides no bonus other than the ability to perform the combined action at all.